When you think of Australian beauty products, you picture all of the double-tap-worthy packaging designs that have taken Instagram by storm. While founders down under know a thing or two about aesthetically pleasing color schemes, Australian beauty is flooding bathroom counters everywhere for more than its ‘grammable outer appearance. The actual ingredients and simple, straightforward formulas are raising the bar oh-so-high in the beauty industry.
Often considered the pioneers of the natural movement, Australian beauty products lack five potentially irritating ingredients found in many American versions: sulfates, parabens, propylene glycol, methylisothiazolinone (AKA MIT), and triclosan. In their place, you’ll notice a slew of potent, indigenous ingredients — namely the kakadu plum, one of the world’s most powerful antioxidants — that use the power of nature to deliver astounding results for both hair and skin. It’s due to these ingredients, and a growing clean conscience among consumers, that has led A-beauty to rise 168 percent YOY on Pinterest in the US. To help you get a better sense of what makes these top-shelf beauty buys worth every penny, like, and share, ahead you’ll learn about ingredients and green initiatives that, while common down under, are changing the way Americans shop skincare and haircare.
Simple, pretty, and oftentimes housed in pastel, the Kevin.Murphy haircare line is a sight to behold. It’s not just easy on the eyes; the unique squared packaging is actually designed to help diminish waste in production. The salon-based, internationally sold Australian company is taking its initiative a step further and, as of September 2018, is the first beauty brand to use 100 percent recycled ocean plastics in packaging.
Stellar, sustainable packaging aside, each product is made with carefully picked extracts like Australian desert lime, finger lime, lilly pilly, and kakadu plum to nourish hair to the core. Where desert lime is renowned for its high protein yield, which Murphy says can help repair broken or fragile hair, finger lime and lilly pilly are rich in vitamins and fatty acids to help maintain the cuticle. They’re also hydrophilic, meaning they can absorb moisture from the air to help hair withstand drying conditions.
Much like the brand’s beloved beauty editor-turned-founder Zoe Foster Blake, Go-To Skincare is fun, quirky, and refreshingly approachable. So much so, that you may want to clear your full vanity to make room for the peachy-pink delight.
Launched in 2014, Go-To began as a purely Australian-based beauty brand, only recently sailing the seas to the US in 2018. While the easy-to-pronounce ingredients (including vitamin C-rich kakadu plum, anti-inflammatory kiwi fruit, and nourishing macadamia oil) and head-turning results (think: clear, dewy skin) are worth writing home about, it’s the no-nonsense approach to skincare and witty packaging that really strikes a chord for people around the world. “When I published my book Amazinger Face, I got a ton of feedback from women on skin and skincare, which is so closely linked to confidence,” Blake explains. “They would go to their facialist or a department store and come out buying all these things. They didn’t know why, [they] felt frustrated; even a bit bullied.”
It was that realization that made Blake realize there was a bit of a disconnect in the world of caring for your skin, pointing to the idea that it didn’t have to be so confusing — hell, it could even be fun. “Having been a beauty editor [at Cosmopolitan Australia], I knew which ingredients actually worked, and as a mum and frequent traveler, I knew what I wanted from my skin care: something simple, effective, and reliable,” Blake says. She created a brand that relies on incredibly clean formulations that contain only useful ingredients, all of which come labeled with quirky witticisms and a “Holy Shit You Look Amazing” mirror decal you’d be proud to display both on your vanity and your social feed.
O&M (short for Original Mineral), a niche Australian haircare brand that prides itself on clean(er) formulas, may have just launched in Sephora, but the deliciously scented hair collection first came to life 11 years ago with in-salon color. “We called our next-generation color CØR because color is the core of our brand,” Janelle Chaplin, the brand’s creative director, says. “At the very heart is the Ø, a symbol of our unbreakable commitment to zero ammonia, PPD, and resorcinol.” As one of the first low-chemical haircare companies in the world to produce professional-grade permanent dye without these common ingredients, it’s no wonder the brand quickly grabbed the attention of conscious clients and committed stylists who care about what’s going into their mane.
After years mastering the color space, O&M decided it was time to give clients new technology, only this time in the form of take-home haircare products. Chaplin touts the brand’s success to the fact that it started in a professional arena, which she thinks helps give the retail collection a more luxurious, spa-like feel, that manages to feel laidback and accessible. Well, that and the fact that, like the other brands in this round-up (and much of A-beauty), O&M’s ingredients, including collagen-boosting lilly pilly, hydrating quandong, and antioxidant-rich banksia flower, are nothing short of impressive.
Sand & Sky
Looks familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because Sand & Sky swarmed Instagram feeds, garnering millions of likes, starting an all-out frenzy back in April 2017. We’re talking 60,000 face masks sold almost immediately after launch and just about every beauty blogger in the world making a mad dash to review the cult-favorite Pink Clay Pore-Refining Face Mask ($49). While founders and sisters Sarah and Emily Hamilton chock the mask’s popularity up to the fact that it provides instant results, it’s worth looking at the ingredients that make those effects possible. Organic mangosteen, a potent antioxidant that helps repair cells and prevent aging while delivering antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties to the skin, pairs with gently exfoliating bamboo, macadamia, and finger lime, calming old man’s weed, pore-tightening witch hazel, toxin-absorbing Australian pink clay, antioxidant-rich pomegranate, and kakadu plum to create the industry’s most Instagrammable pore solution.
As if the ingredients they source aren’t special enough, the way in which they come up with their best-selling products is worth mentioning too. Unlike most brands that brainstorm beauty ideas all on their own, Sand & Sky utilizes their network of followers to survey skincare lovers on what they crave most. It’s that very process (including more than 5,000 customer surveys) that led to the newly launched Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment ($43), which has already become a much-loved extension of the brand.
Salt by Hendrix
Kellie Collis, the founder of SALT BY HENDRIX, created her skincare masterpiece in hopes of finding a solution for her son Hendrix’s severe eczema. Since his skin condition was extremely sensitive, Collis was faced with sourcing a treatment that would address his complexion concerns without potentially making them worse. She landed on a concoction of pomegranate oil, flame tree, emu apple, and mountain pepper berry, all of which are rich botanicals designed to calm inflammation and reduce acne and eczema flares. Over time, the ingredients became the answer to her baby’s biggest skin woes, and the inspiration to her 2016 launch of cult-favorite Mermaid Oil ($40).
You’ll find many minimalistic beauty brands in Australia that thrive off the coastline’s potent plants, but few are as attention-grabbing as ASARAI‘s canary yellow collection. “We started conceptualizing and testing our formulations in 2016,” co-founder Patrice Rynenberg says. “My mother-in-law who is a naturopath was making natural products for our family’s own personal use and we decided we couldn’t keep the formulations to ourselves.” And so, for the next two years, the ASARAI team worked tirelessly testing products until launching in early 2018 in the US both online and at Urban Outfitters.
The founders opted for bold yellow packaging to create the illusion of energy associated with the active, healthy lifestyle for which Australia is so well known. But the containers themselves aren’t the only thing that will catch your eye, the label, chock-full of native botanical ingredients renowned for surviving extreme conditions, including kakadu plum (of course), desert lime extract, and finger lime, will too. It’s because of these power-packed formulations that ASARAI has become synonymous with nourishment and repair, not to mention proactive protection that helps ward off some of the most aggravating daily aggressors (we’re looking at you, free radicals).
Rynenberg, while proud of every single product in the collection, has a special place in her heart for the brand’s Earth Tones Mask. “Clay masks are having a moment in Australia right now, but we’re proud to have an Australian red clay mask, which is one of the gentlest clays for the skin,” she says. The natural ingredient is a wonder at removing acne-causing bacteria without drying the skin (a common complaint of other clay options).
“Australians are lucky to have an unspoiled natural environment,” says Rynenberg. “And combined with some of the cleanest manufacturing facilities in the world, it’s no wonder people are looking down under for cleaner, non-toxic products.”
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